Long exposure photography is a fun, relaxing, and most importantly – a thought-stimulating experience. One of the things that is most important when creating a long exposure, is to find an interesting point of interest, that’s not just long trails of lights. One of my first experiences with long exposures, was some two-plus years ago, with a borrowed camera, and very little knowledge of photography. Many of you should recognize this image, as it is not only one of my banner pictures on this website, but one of my all-time favorite pictures that I’ve taken: an example that technical knowledge is almost always outweighed by having a vision.

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Fast forward to this past Monday afternoon, as I was (somewhat aimlessly) driving around downtown, and I passed under Apalachee Parkway headed north on Gadsden Street. Looking up through the overpass I noticed a sign that I’d never see before and new I wanted to come back later that day, once it had gotten dark, do a long exposure of the sign.

So I called up a body of mine, whom I had sold my first DSLR body to earlier this year, and asked him if he wanted to come out and do a long exposure or two. He had (apparently) been itching for an opportunity, and so we agreed to meet in Midtown, because I had a photo idea there too…

So I arrived after I finished coaching Monday evening, and while waiting for him, I thought I’d go ahead and shoot something…get warmed up, ya know? And although the local arcade bar Fire Betty’s wasn’t open yet, I thought that it[s sign] provided a nice backdrop to some cars’ light trails, and the brick Fifth Avenue sign provided a nice foreground.

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Again, I felt like a 16:9 aspect ratio lent itself better to this image than a 3:2…and! as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I find long exposure techniques to require a lot more forethought than lots of other photography. In addition to the actual exposure time being longer (I was anywhere from six, to thirty seconds), composition is critical. I have mentioned before that lots of the time I don’t always think of compositional elements in my photographs, I just “see” the photo, well, I just “see” the photo in long exposure images too, but I have time to analyze what I’m thinking about.

Then, headed north in Midtown about a block, this new building has been in construction for a security company for a couple months now, and one day driving by, I thought that the two-story, glass front facade would look cool with light trails reflected in it, so we set up for a couple minutes, and each shot a couple frames there.

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Unfortunately my vision didn’t come to fruition here, but I did get this rather serene image when I walked across the street to get a closer photo.

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This photo also inspired me to play with some of Adobe Lightroom’s distortion controls that I don’t normally touch so that the straight lines stayed straight.

After this, my buddy and I headed over photograph the sign I’d seen earlier that day.

Now, to me, the Gadsden Street overpass is really cool – it just seems sort of out of place in Tallahassee, and is a less-traveled road when one considers that it is downtown.

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To me, like I said, it’s just cool. Calhoun and Apalachee actually intersect at the same level (black circle), whereas Gadsden is a sub-level. I can’t really quantify it more than that, except for the fact that sometimes I accidentally turn onto Apalachee hoping to be able to then hop onto Gadsden to head north, only THEN remembering that the two roads don’t actually intersect…

As an aside…I also got a Joby GorillaPod (one of those dohickys with the super bendy, grippy legs) for Christmas, and thought it’s combination of being short, and flexible would provide an interesting challenge for this outing, so that’s the only tripod I brought with me…

Looking at west at the sign I saw, with the Capitol in the background…

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Resultant image:

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Looking east over Gadsden Street down Apalachee Parkway.

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Resultant image:

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And the carved-out name of the bridge…

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And that’s all for this time folks! Hope you enjoyed it, and if you’re not familiar with photography, or my style, I hope you learned something too!

-Colin

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